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Appeals Court Rejects Lifting Scholarship Cap for Student Athletes

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals says the 25 percent cap on private high school tuition that can be covered by merit-based scholarships will remain in place.The Kentucky High School Athletic Association sets regulations that all member high schools must comply with.  When this regulation was set in 2007, the cap was meant to prevent schools from buying students to play for their school, said Commissioner Julian Tackett. Several private schools were involved in writing the regulation, he said.“They wrote it. It was a combination of extremely small schools such as St. Francis and Portland Christian and big schools like Trinity. They were all involved in looking at what was going on at the time and were very well aware of what they were doing," said Tackett.The court rejected claims from parents of four Louisville private school students. The parents argued that capping merit-based scholarships forces students to choose between participating in sports and seeking additional tuition assistance.But the Court of Appeals disagreed. In the opinion Julia Smith Gibbons writes while the rules may not be perfect, the cap prevents schools from improperly recruiting athletes.“They looked at what merit aid was being given throughout the state and made a rule based on what was going on,” said Tackett.The parents argued that the rule affects students who earn scholarships for doing well in school. Tackett acknowledges there may be some exceptions, but said the regulation is fair.Plaintiffs' attorney Teddy Gordon says the parents want the case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.A statement provided by media relations specialist Honi Marleen Goldman on behalf of Gordon said:"The Court failed to recognize the religious freedom of these Roman Catholic and Christian students who want to participate in Kentucky high school sports without losing their badly needed tuition that was provided to them based on their academic abilities. We are hopeful the KHSAA will review the ruling and stop penalizing academic achievement and their continual acrimony against all parochial schools. "